Hello my name is Patty Guerrero. I was one of the first mentors that started with the Pilot program in 2011. I started at Heaton Middle school with a 6th grader and mentored her until the middle of her 7th grade year. Unfortunately, she moved to another school that was no longer participating in the mentoring program. I then started with a new mentee at Liberty Point Middle School in the fall of 2013.
I first met this timid little blonde girl at the Mentor, Mentee, Parent meet in greet at the school last October. Arial looked at me with her big blue eyes and I can tell she was not quite sure what role I was going to play in her life. Her mother was not at the school yet so I asked her to tell me a little about herself. At that point it was like I opened the gates to a horse race. She spoke so fast and wanted to tell me anything and everything at that very moment. I learned that she spends a significant amount of time in the office trying to speak to a counselor about issues with her and other students and how she continues to get bullied.
One of her challenges has been over coming fear. The trauma that she experienced a few years ago has caused anxiety and some self-esteem issues. One of the things that we do when we meet every week is discuss her fears and look for solutions. I provided Arial with a journal that she can write in and we can discuss in our meetings. In the beginning she wanted to call me all of the time if she had a fear or a worry. The journal has helped her to document and it gives us an opportunity to discuss each week. Instead of signing up to see a counselor, we wait for our weekly meetings and discuss each issue. At times we even role play different scenarios of her being bullied by other students. I believe it has given her the confidence to face some of her fears and be able to handle these situations on her own. As each week and each month has passed I see an improvement on issues that she was not able to resolve on her own. The last few months of school she did not sign up one time to speak to a counselor about issues with another student.
One of the other challenges was her participation in P.E activities “due to her asthma.” She expressed a love for volleyball. During some of our sessions I would make a point to do some type of physical activity. As an ex athlete and coach I had a few drills that we worked on in the gym after our lunch. That was a highlight for her. At the end of the year I would allow her to create a game that would involve some physical activity. Sometimes there would be a volleyball, a hula hoop or a dodge ball involved, or sometimes all three at the same time. At no time during these activities did she ever need her inhaler. I have encouraged her to go out for an extracurricular sport, for several reasons. I believe this will increase her confidence and it will help with social skills and team work. She did mention that the participation fee was too high for her family to afford. In the meantime we are gearing up for her 7th grade year and we will continue to journal and work through problem solving. We will continue to work on creativity and physical activity during our weekly meetings. As I see these areas strengthen I also see the grades improving. Arial is a highly intelligent kid, but with the anxiety she experiences I am sure that it may hinder her full potential at times. I am so proud of the strides Arial has made this past year. If she were to be selected for this recognition she could the money towards a participation fee if she was to go out for the volleyball team or she can purchase school clothes and supplies for the upcoming year. I truly appreciate you considering Arial for this award and I truly appreciate the privilege of making a difference in a young life and the opportunity to volunteering in the community that I love!